Petition aims to change official name to Aotearoa

Te Pāti Māori leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas.

Te Pāti Māori has launched a petition to change the official name of New Zealand to Aotearoa.

Māori Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer launched the petition on Tuesday, with the aim to change the name to Aotearoa and use te reo Māori names for all towns, cities and places by 2026.

"It's well past time that te reo Māori was restored to its rightful place as the first and official language of this country. We are a Polynesian country, we are Aotearoa," Waititi says.

"Our petition calls on Parliament to change New Zealand to Aotearoa and begin a process, alongside whānau, hapū and iwi, to identify and officially restore the original te reo Māori names for all towns, cities and places right across the country by 2026.

"Tangata whenua are sick to death of our ancestral names being mangled, bastardised, and ignored. It's the 21st Century, this must change.

"Article 3 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi promises tangata whenua the same rights as British citizens, that te reo Māori me ōna tikanga katoa be treated and valued exactly the same as the English language - ko te mana ōrite tērā," Waititi says.

Ngarewa-Packer says name changes over the whenua and the imposition of a colonial agenda in the education system in the early 1900s meant that te reo Māori fluency among tūpuna went from 90 per cent in 1910 to 26 per cent in 1950.

"In only 40 years, the colonisers managed to successfully strip us of our language and we are still feeling the impacts of this today," she says.

"A year ago today, Te Pāti Māori launched our te reo Māori policy which addresses the dire fact that current estimates show that only 20 per cent of the Māori population and 3 per cent of people living in Aotearoa can speak te reo Māori.

"It is the duty of the Crown to do all that it can to restore the status of our language to where it was when the moment they arrived and interrupted our natural development. That means it needs to be accessible in the most obvious of places; on our televisions, on our radio stations, on road signs and maps and in our education system."

Asked about the petition, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not commit to supporting such a move, but says place names could continue to be used interchangably as te reo Māori is an official language.

"We've got no plans to go through an official process to change the name of New Zealand, but I would say at the same time that actually I'm encouraged by the fact that people are using place names interchangably and I think that will only continue to grow.

"Te reo Māori's an official language and so therefore we use those names interchangably and I think we should continue to do so."


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50,000 signatures

Posted on 18-09-2021 07:36 | By

Read yesterday the petition has reached 50,000 signatures. 16% of 5 million is 800,000. 50,000 is less than 7% of all Maori in the country and you can further reduce that to account for a handful of bleeding heart left wing liberals.

@ morepork and others

Posted on 17-09-2021 12:00 | By

There’s some very good comments on here. The time this party has cost Parliament is just ridiculous. We don’t need their grandstanding. This PC rubbish is costing our country billions of dollars. When you’re anchored firmly to the past you cannot positively move into the future. These MP’s are supposed to be leading the country forward not trying to impose stagnation upon us. Since when do men wear hats inside . . . and in this case hats of the Western European culture . . .

I'm with Slim on this.

Posted on 16-09-2021 13:21 | By morepork

And with Kancho, who is right about the grandstanding instead of service, that seems to be the mark of some of our politicians. You can have all the smoke and mirrors that you want, but this cannot happen without a binding Referendum, and such a Referendum will re-assert commonsense instead of this PC nonsense. The Maori party is doing Maori people no good service by alienating the majority of the public and wasting time in Parliament (as Slim noted.)


Posted on 15-09-2021 18:39 | By

These fools were taking up valuable Parliamentary time on debating tie wearing. Meanwhile a nutter in Auckland who wanted to kill people couldn’t be deported because Parliament hadn’t got the time to pass the required legislation. They are time wasters.


Posted on 15-09-2021 14:39 | By Kancho

This appears to be an attempt the gain some publicity as the Maori party try to regain the inroads into Maori middle ground that Labour now occupies. The Maori party is becoming more radical but this probably paradoxically worsens their position to middle ground Maori. Any change of the magnitude of this position would require a referendum. Maori is a recognised language and will one day rise about the under four percent that can converse in Maori. It’s great Maori have a culture and language to celebrate and no one is standing in their way. I am proud of own culture to celebrate too. On the world stage we are we known as a country and our association with many trading products and brands. It would be very difficult to replace this achievement in many years of rebranding and significant costs in many ways.

My choice.

Posted on 15-09-2021 13:52 | By Centurion

If I want to speak French, I’ll learn French. If I want to speak Chinese or some other language I’ll learn that language. Its my choice. But I fail to see why I should be forced to subscribe to a dying language that has contributed nothing to the world.


Posted on 15-09-2021 11:51 | By Equality

Quote from above "It is the duty of the Crown to do all that it can to restore the status of our language to where it was when the moment they arrived and interrupted our natural development. I wonder where maori would be today if the colonists hadn’t interrupted their "natural development" Truly - the mind boggles!

NZ wins by over 250 years

Posted on 15-09-2021 11:18 | By

In 1642 NZ was named ’New Zealand’. The word ’Aotearoa’ was invented over 250 years later. In 1600s maori had no concept of a country, just as Napoleon had no concept of wifi. A totally foreign, never thought of concept.


Posted on 15-09-2021 10:23 | By

We’re yet to see a single worthy utterance from some sections of parliament. The cost to the nation of the MMP Parliament and the wasting of parliamentary time on costly irrelevances should be a cause for the whole country to hang it’s head in shame. We have a Parliament of showponies rather than genuine community leaders. But there’s more to come as more and more seats are up for grabs by popularity contestants rather than qualified accomplished leaders.


Posted on 15-09-2021 10:19 | By dumbkof2

make the iwi pay for all the name changes then the govt will get back some of the billions gifted tot them